Wednesday, 28 March 2007 16:37

Government sets up housing group

Written by  Ruralcity Media
ImageThe government has set up a high level advisory group on affordable rural housing after admitting it is failing to provide enough homes in the countryside.

Housing Minister Yvette Cooper asked the Housing Corporation to set up and chair the Rural Housing Advisory Group, which will report annually into the Communities and Local Government department.

The group will be chaired by Candy Atherton, Housing Corporation board member with lead responsibility for rural housing. Members will include former Affordable Rural Housing Commission commissioners, housing experts and rural stakeholders.

Ms Cooper said: “We need more affordable homes in rural areas to help families stay in the countryside.  That is why we have already changed the planning guidance to support more affordable homes, particularly on smaller sites in rural areas.”

Genuinely innovative mechanisms – such as Community Land Trusts, Land Swap Levies and community bonds could help deliver more affordable rural housing with more effective use of the public purse, she added.

Ms Atherton, who is a former Labour MP, insisted that the Housing Corporation remained committed to meeting the needs and aspirations of the 19% of England’s population who live in rural settlements.

The corporation has published a revised Rural Housing Strategy to coincide with the launch of the advisory group. It acknowledges that affordable housing provision falls short of meeting rural needs.

Innovative partnerships should be formed to support and promote low-cost home ownership in rural areas, says the document, with appropriate safeguards to ensure a supply of affordable housing into the future.

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